Figs, for some reason, have always been a little difficult for me to find. They seem popular during Christmas time, but even then if I was planning to use them for a recipe I always had to hunt around the supermarket to locate any. Why is it that this time they next to the maple syrup, and last time they were hiding under the display of oranges in the produce section? I’m sure there is a marketing genius at work here figuring out just where to locate them to get me to buy more things I didn’t think I needed, but what a chore!
Since I have begun traveling full-time, locating some ingredients has become much more difficult, and others quite a bit easier. This of course makes sense, but it also gives me the opportunity to become inspired to use some ingredients that were a little more off my radar. And on a trip to Istanbul, all of a sudden, the elusive fig came into focus. Here, figs are everywhere. And where there are figs, there are also plenty of creative recipes out there that use them to their flavorful potential. One such recipe really inspired me, enough to decide I had to add it to my collection. This simple dessert is a perfect small bite at the end of a meal – so much so that its well worth going out of your way to track down figs in the supermarket, wherever they are hiding. Hint: Save the poaching liquid to make this caramelized onion and fig chutney!
10 – 18 Dried Figs (plan on 2 figs for each serving)
1/2 Cup Whole Walnuts
8 – 10 Whole Cloves
Shaved Coconut (for garnish)
1 Chocolate Bar (Dark of Milk)
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Sugar
Work each fig until the stem is in the center. Cut a small slit in the side, reaching through to the center of the fig, taking care not to pierce the skin.
Create an opening that you can use to stuff the fig with 1 – 1/2 walnuts. After the fig is stuffed, pinch together the opening.
Place the figs in a sauce pan and add all of the other ingredients (including the lemon rind). There should be enough liquid to just cover the figs. If not, add more of the sugar-water solution, following the 1 part sugar to 2 parts water equation. Bring the pan to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Continue cooking the figs for 30 -45 minutes until their skin is fork-tender, turning them occasionally during that time. Turn the heat off and allow the figs to cool in the water. Then remove the figs.
They can be plated when they are room temperature with a little of the cooking liquid. Garnish with coconut flakes and chocolate shavings and serve. You can also place them covered in the refrigerator overnight and remove them 1 hour before they are ready to serve. The cooking liquid can be reduced to a syrup (after removing the cloves and lemon rind) which you can use to drizzle over the figs before serving. The syrup can also be reserved and used anywhere you might use honey or syrup (such as with pancakes).
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You can find out other recipes inspired by our travels around the world, in our food-finds recipe section.